Creativity shouldn’t be stressful, but for many people, the thought causes anxiety. #Spoileralert: you don’t have to be an “artist” to use creativity to express yourself. Creativity is a state of being and art therapy is a powerful tool that helps people express themselves! It’s time to take your inner words and learn to release them through art expression.
Go with the Flow
A "flow state" is a mental state in which a person performing an activity or task is fully immersed in a feeling of energized attention, full participation and sense of fulfillment.
The idea of flow has been well researched and shown to exist within many different forms. It's a healthy state for our brains to thrive, grow and recharge!
Flow comes from many different places, and for most it’s when you’re feeling hyper focused and relaxed while doing something. That could be playing a musical instrument, working on a physical and repetitive task, playing video games, writing or drawing. Chances are you have been in a flow state at some point, without even knowing it!
We mostly think of “getting in the zone” when playing a sport or doing something that takes a lot of brain power and/or physical determination. Flow is a happy and healthy state for our brains to be in but many of us often struggle to achieve it within our daily lives.
It is important to find an outlet (or zone) that feels as though it comes naturally to you and provides the much-needed space for taking some deep breaths. This is particularly true if you are struggling to remove emotional roadblocks and improve ways of expressing yourself.
You might be thinking to yourself, so, how do I get in the zone? Reflect for a moment on a few activities where all of a sudden you realized hours had passed and you didn’t realize, or where you felt really connected to your purpose – or perhaps felt complete joy and fulfillment for those moments. How do these activities make you feel when you’re done?
Some common examples are digital art-making, cosplay, scribble-drawing, poetry, journaling, painting, singing, exercising, playing an instrument, dancing, writing and so much more. Finding outlets that you enjoy is the first hurdle, but people often continue to find themselves limited by how "best" to express themselves within that activity.
Tell your inner judge (the voice telling you that you might feel or look silly) to be quiet and go with the flow. Remove expectations and perfectionism. Creative expression isn't about "being an artist,” it’s about getting those emotions out–in whatever way feels healthy and right to you!
It's an ongoing challenge to integrate creativity that feels right to you into your daily life. You’re swamped with school activities, work deadlines and trying to be a caring parent/kid and friend. The best way to make it all fit is to integrate the tasks within one another.
You may be thinking that scribbling and learning about positive psychology concepts aren't something that you can use in your own daily life – but that’s not true!
The key is to integrate these creative outlet habits into your weekly routine. You could take a pottery class or instrument lesson, purposefully doodle, take five minutes to sing and dance along to your favorite song or journal every evening before bed.
Journaling doesn’t have to be a long essay of your day that takes 20 minutes. Bullet journaling (also known as BUJO) is a great practice and it integrates creativity and productivity into one place. A helpful way to work creative expression into your week is by keeping track of the various pieces of your week on one page.
Find a blank journal with fun colors, stripes, flowers, or whatever makes you happy and take a few minutes each day to put that busy brain of yours onto paper! As you list out your tasks and activities on each day, it’s key to also capture your emotions/mood and express gratitude.
Creativity can provide us with tools to express ourselves in more unconventional, clearer ways than words can offer. If you struggle with anxiety, racing thoughts, and/or speechlessness at times, art therapy may be a great fit for you! You can do this on your own with the tools outlined here, or find a qualified art therapist who can guide you through the process.
Humans are creative, social, and expressionistic. There are roughly 6,500 languages spoken today, and yet there are not always appropriate words to convey how we're feeling and what we're experiencing. Don't blame yourself for struggling to find words, just try a new or different way to let it all out!
Begin the process of thinking outside of the box on all the different ways to express how you feel. Identifying what helps you reach flow, lowering your expectations within creativity (you don’t have to be an artist!) and weaving creative expression into your daily life are the foundation of truly knowing and understanding yourself. There is no wrong way to use creativity to express yourself. So stop stressing and start expressing!
Download our free art therapy e-book and put these skills and strategies into practice!